tim phillips

Tea Party ties to Koch Brothers Ignored by Media in IRS Scandal

  • Posted on: 29 May 2013
  • By: JesseColeman

10 out of 11 Tea Party spokespeople quoted in major news outlets regarding the IRS scandal have ties to the Koch funded Americans for Prosperity.

The Internal Revenue Service, not the most popular government agency to begin with, has been in the midst of a scatological squall for the past 3 weeks over their treatment of tea party groups. According to an agency spokesperson, organizations garnered additional scrutiny of their applications for non-profit status for having “Tea Party, Patriot, or 9/12” in the application materials. Non-profit status is granted by the IRS for “social welfare organizations” and federal law puts legal limits to the amount of overtly political things you can do if you are applying to be a non-profit, and thus tax-exempt.

In the coverage of this story, now a scandal, there are a couple of important facts that some of the reporting has missed.

First is the fact that the tea party is a creation of enterprising political and public relations professionals, constructed to accomplish a political purpose. A study published in the Tobacco Control Journal actually traced the origins of the tea party to “free-market” groups founded by tobacco corporations and the oil industry billionaires David and Charles Koch.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="738"]http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/early/2013/02/20/tobaccocontrol-2012-050815/F1.large.jpg This map, created by researchers at UC San Francisco, shows the historical links between tobacco corporations, moneyed interests like the Koch brothers, and the modern tea party.[/caption]

According to researchers at UC San Francisco:

“Rather than being a grassroots movement that spontaneously developed in 2009, the Tea Party organizations have had connections to the tobacco companies since the 1980s. The cigarette companies funded and worked through Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE), the predecessor of Tea Party organizations, Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks, to accomplish their economic and political agenda.”

Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE), was founded in 1984 by the Koch brothers.

There is even a tea party website registered to a Koch group in 2005, long before the conservative outcry we now know as the tea party began.

The second thing to keep in mind is that the tea party is still controlled by enterprising political and public relations professionals, funded by the David and Charles Koch. In coverage of the IRS scandal, there were 11 people who were involved in tea party groups quoted about IRS scrutiny. Of those 11, 10 have substantial ties to Americans for Prosperity (AFP). As you can see from the chart above, AFP (also founded and funded by the Kochs), is the direct descendent of CSE - one of the groups who registered a tea party site in 2005. Of those 10 with ties to AFP, 2 actually work for the organization currently. All 10 have received aid from AFP which included help with messaging and communication.

The tea party groups that were scrutinized by the IRS are not just separate grassroots citizen groups unfairly accused of political shenanigans, as the Koch associated spokespeople in the media would have you believe. They are one part of a wider political strategy, funded and managed by a very wealthy few. they have uniform and coordinated messages, such as attacking climate science and opposing environmental regulations.

As this IRS scandal progresses, it is important to keep in mind that many of the tea party groups in question deserve to have their non-profit, tax-exempt status questioned. The New York Times has already found that several tea party groups investigated by the IRS were engaged in activities that are illegal for tax exempt groups.

For the record, Greenpeace and Rainforest Action Network experienced expensive and debilitating audits by the IRS during George W Bush’s presidency. Those audits were most likely at the behest of an Exxon funded front group.

Tea Party Spokespeople with ties to Americans For Prosperity (AFP)

Tom Zawistowski: quoted in the Wall Street Journal and other sources

Margie Dresher: Quoted by ABC news

  • Currently works for AFP

Toby Marie Walker: Quoted by Business Insider

  • earned the "Watchdog of the Month" award in March and the “Tea Party Leader of the Year -2010” from Americans for Prosperity

Jennifer Stefano: Quoted by ABC news

Carol Waddell: Quoted by ABC news

Tim Savaglio: Quoted by the Associated Press

Jaime Radtke: Quoted in ABQ Journal, Newsday

Larry Norvig: Quoted by CNN

Tim Curtis: Quoted by CNN

Susan McLaughlin: Quoted in Reuters

  • AFP ran tactics and messaging strategy training for Mclaughlin's group in Liberty Township, Ohio.
  • McLaughlin served on the Romney campaign's Conservative Leadership Coalition with representatives from AFP

Jay Devereaux: Quoted by Fox News

  • The only tea party spokesman quoted in the media with no obvious ties to AFP

 

 

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Citizens United v. FEC leads to more corporate power in government

  • Posted on: 10 August 2011
  • By: JesseColeman

Ever notice how people seem to listen to you more if you have a bag full of cash?  Tom Donohue of the US Chamber of Commerce sure has.  Politicians and corporations have as well.  But it used to be, prior to 2010, that giant multinational corporations couldn’t use their equally giant bags of cash to directly influence how people voted in elections.  Unfair for corporations you say? A travesty of justice perhaps?  Luckily for our favorite corporate interests the Supreme Court overturned hundreds of years of pesky electioneering laws in the 2010 landmark court case Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission.  The court ruled that corporations, because they are considered individuals under the law like you and me, are fully protected by the first amendment of the constitution, and therefore should be able to spend as much as they want on political attack ads during elections.  Now we all have free speech.  You have free speech, I have free speech, Monsanto has free speech, all are equal- just like the writers of first amendment intended hundreds of years ago.  And we can all freely spend our billions of dollars on political ads that support our own politics, thus bringing balance to the system.

But under this system it seems like some “individuals” have more free speech than others.  ExxonMobil for example made $30.46 billion dollars in profit in 2010.  That is a big bag of cash and thus, a lot of free speech.  And now, if a politician does something Exxon doesn’t like (forcing them to clean up an oil spill or curb carbon emissions for example), Exxon can bankroll millions of dollars in political ads in support of an opponent.  Most non-corporate “individuals” can’t do that.  Does that sound like a government for the people and by the people to you?

 

Speaking of Tom Donohue of the Chamber of Commerce, he represents an important facet of the hazardous fallout from Citizens United.  It may be that Exxon doesn’t want to alienate consumers by picking sides in a contentious political match.  Instead, they funnel money to trade and advocacy groups, like Donohue’s Chamber or Tim Phillips' Americans for Prosperity, who can then attack an offending candidate in any manner they choose, without impugning ExxonMobil’s www.exxonsecrets.org/maps.php">http://www.exxonsecrets.org/maps.php">good name.  In fact one of the most insidious and corrosive of all of the Citizen’s United case’s effects is to increase the funding (and therefore importance) of corporate front groups like Americans for Prosperity and the Chamber of Commerce, who do not reveal their funding and are not accountable to the public. 

In all seriousness the Citizens United v. FEC court case erodes the foundations of democracy in America. The decision has made it much easier for private interests with enormous wealth – like the now infamous www.greenpeace.org/usa/en/campaigns/global-warming-and-energy/polluterwa...">http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/en/campaigns/global-warming-and-energy/pol...">Koch brothers – to use their riches to align public policy with their business ideologies, to the detriment of social, economic, and environmental justice.

On August 11, 2011, www.storyofstuff.com/">http://www.storyofstuff.com/">The Story of Stuff Project has planned an online day of protest against the landmark Supreme Court Case http://storyofstuff.org/citizensunited/">Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission.  To mark the occasion, the 11th has been named “http://storyofstuff.org/dollarsordemocracy/">the Day when $$ equals speech."  Check out the www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5kHACjrdEY">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5kHACjrdEY">short film explaining Citizens United and add your voice to ours and tell our government that it serves real people, not corporations.

 

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